Interview with Pro Wedding DJ Donnie Lewis of Your Event Matters Entertainment and Photo Booths
By Lisa Zaro, Wedding Officiant
Donnie, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions about your Hudson Valley wedding DJ & photo booth business. Tell us about what makes your DJ and photo booth experience special and what brides and grooms can expect from you.
We provide very personal wedding celebrations tailored to each couple from the most elaborate events with amazing lighting productions to the small intimate very personal experiences!
To create the most magical experience, it takes a strong structure and flow. It is not hard creating that, but it takes communication and guidance. It is very important to us to get to know each couple. We truly want to assist and guide our couples. Answering texts or emails at 11 in the evening is common for us. We know how stressful it can be but we truly want you to try to enjoy it, rather then hate it.
How long have you been providing wedding services?
We started Your Event Matters Entertainment in 2012. I was previously working for a large company and didn’t get the interactions with the couples I really wanted and felt we needed to create the most personal experience for each couple and their guests. It’s truly our goal to turn a couples dream wedding into reality but it takes passion, dedication and communication between the couple and their dj. I love that we decided to open your event matters and we have yet to look back.
What/who inspired you to start? Did you work for someone else previously, fall into your profession, always dream of doing it and come upon in naturally?
I have been a DJ since the late 90’s and have always had a strong passion for music and events. In the early 2000’s we created shows for the public and consulted for organizations looking to raise funds. At first, I was very apprehensive when it came to performing at a wedding, mainly because I felt there was a lot of information I needed to know before taking on a couples special event. Before jumping into weddings, I took event planning classes, spoke with some highly respected professional wedding DJs and ran with their tips. I then started working for that large company and shortly after started Your Event Matters.
My current influences are vast but all share common traits, including passion, dedication and a love for their couples. One person I’d love to thank for all the advice he’s given over my first 3 years is Joe Garcia. Bouncing ideas off each other in hopes of creating new experiences for our couples is a huge benifit to the couples thst book with us. Competition isn’t ugly with us, it’s welcomed. Two other major influences for me were Mike Sucsa and Bri Swatek, both great at different aspects of weddings and the perfect people to get advice from.
What sets you apart from your competition?
First off, the Hudson Valley is filled with some amazing talent and passionate DJs that truly provide for their couples. The Hudson Valley DJ Association is comprised of local DJs that want to expand their services or learn about how they can improve.
Personally, I spend a lot of time with each couple, planning meetings lasting 2 hours is the norm, to me its not possible to gauge the couple or to really let them express what their dream celebration is by handing me a piece of papr. We require 2 things from our couples: The first is that they need to be able to accept the word “no”. Not because I don’t want to do something specifically, but because I want to ensure the flow and structure is conducive for what their vision is. Having a couple try to tackle a timeline is great and I love their passion, but a lot of times the guests are not taken into consideration. The second requirement is an open line of communication. We are not the type of company that askes you to just mail us documents. We truly want you to have an enjoyable planning experience and we try to relieve a lot of stress by responding to questions as quickly as possible while also walking our couples through their wedding at our planning meeting, explaining different options for formalities and ways to personalize the night.
Is this your full-time job?
For the last 17 years, Jenny and I have worked in the non-profit field, working with the austic population and most recently teaching patients with traumatic brain injuries. I absolutely love it, but in april of 2015 we have decided to pursue our company full time. We are very excited, but at the same time sad at this change. I enjoy my guys and what we do.
What is a typical wedding day like for you? Do you rise and shine at the crack of dawn no matter what? Do you have a routine you follow? A checklist? Your own team of pros that help you?
Each event day starts off with going over our checklist, making sure all the documents i’ve printed are in our laptop bag. Double-check songs for important dances and ensuring every must play is accounted for. Load the trailer with the needed equipment and back up equipment then kiss our boys as we head out.
We arrive at each wedding 2-4 hours early depending on location and the specific set up the couple chooses. Initially, when we get to the venue I sit with the caterer to discuss the timeline we (the couple and myself) have created. If any changes are needed, they are changed, then I give a copy of the timeline to each professional working the celebration. Setup then starts and we are ready to rock!
Imagine your dream couple. What are they like? What is their style in reference to your specialty?
My dream couple? A couple with an amazing sense of humor that has a lot of love for each other and want to create the most personal event they can. A couple that truly wants a unique, non traditional experience and is open to many different things. A couple that loves music, a lot of energy and to dance with their loved ones. I’m actually very selective with our couples and the first red flag for us is a couple that may argue with each other during our consultation.
If you are married, what would you do differently about your own wedding day now that you have been in your profession for a while? If you are not married, if you wed in the future, do you think your choices would be harder or easier since you have been in business for so long?
Our wedding was amazing! We had a very unique night, hiring our favorite artist to perform a song Jenny and I love, horse and carriage ride, plus so many extras. I would incorporate our anniversary dance, because I love how we present each winner and I’d have our dancing on the clouds effect.
One thing I’d absolutely change was not having a planner or someone to handle the logistics day of. I missed a portion of the celebration handling various tasks.
What advice could you offer newbies in the wedding DJ and photo booth specialties?
Take your time and educate yourself. A wedding is not the time to practice anything. Network with local pros, become a part of your local organizations and continue to learn and grow. Make sure your presentation is appropriate for a wedding, clean up and take pride in your setups. Hide wires, be proactive and make sure your number one concern is the couple and giving them their vision. Be ready to stand up for your couple if you feel they are not being attended to appropriately. Just have a strong passion for weddings, don’t look at it just as a paycheck.
What do you like most about being a wedding DJ and providing exciting photo booth services?
The execution of the celebration after a year’s worth of planning. I love seeing our couples faces when they see their dreams taking shape and the compliments after each wedding!
Do you have a favorite ceremony or reception location?
There are so many beautiful wedding venues in the Hudson Valley and narrowing it down to one is impossible. Diamond Mills, the Bonura facilities, Villa Borghese, Falkirk Estates, Chalet on the Hudson, just to name a few.
What advice can you offer couples for their wedding?
Don’t soley shop based on price. Look at the value you’re getting and make sure each vendor matches your personality. It will make for an easier experience and you will have a lot less stress!
Looking back over what you have accomplished, are there any moments that stand out as favorites?
The New York Times Feature Wedding our couple won in the 1st year we opened. All of the planning resulted in a truly magical night that allowed them to beat out many couples to be the one selected. Also, winning a WeddingWire Brides / Couples Choice award every year we have been in business. It’s a direct reflection of what our couples think about us and how much they appreciated our service.
Is there anything you would like to add?
A word of advice… couples have this notion that because our parents did it we have to. That is completely untrue. Traditions are great if it is what you want, not what you think should happen “just because”. The ceremony and celebration should be a direct reflection of your personalities perfectly mixed and shown off to your guests. You likely have a dream of how you want the night to go and no professional should distract you away from it.
Take the time and sit with your desired professionals, make a desion based on what they can and will offer you, not because they are the cheapest.
There is a quote that always sticks out to me: Good DJ’s are not cheap and cheap DJ’s are not good.
Many thanks to Donnie and Jenny Lewis, Your Event Matters Entertainment & Photo Booths (Est. 2012) for sharing their wedding DJ story and words of wisdom! – Rev. Lisa Zaro, Wedding Officiant, revzaro.com
Wedding DJ & Photo Booth Office Location: Hopewell Junction, NY
Preferred geographical areas to work in: The Hudson Valley, but we have traveled as far as Florida to perform at weddings.
Contact Donnie & Jennie Lewis at Your Event Matters Now!